Five Things Clients Need to Understand about PR

While many people think they understand how PR works, the truth is, it’s a unique and challenging profession that takes years to master, and even the most skilled pros are continually fine-tuning their craft. Not only do PR professionals have to be strategic messengers and excellent writers, they must also have their pulse on what’s happening in the news, respective client industries and their community – in addition to having excellent relationships with journalists, understanding various emerging social and digital marketing trends, and a whole lot more.

We wear a lot of hats, and it’s a demanding job. Not everyone is cut out for it, which is why clients hire us – to become marketing extensions of their organizations, give stories and opportunities legs, and help them meet and exceed goals.

For PR to be the most effective, however, clients should understand the process and be willing participants. Here, we outline five key points to get the most out of a relationship with JWC:

1) Keep Us in the Loop

While you may think that a development, happening or tidbit at your organization is routine, it could very well be newsworthy or have the potential for an engaging social media post, newsletter content, etc. But if we aren’t aware, the story dies there. At the beginning of each new client relationship, we always emphasize – “Tell us everything.”

In the same vein, it’s important for us to know the inner workings of your organization, so we’re prepared if/when the media gets wind of a story. As your PR agency, we should have the necessary background to be able to develop a strategy and get ahead of any misinformation that may arise.

2) There’s a BIG Difference Between PR and Advertising

A common request we often hear from clients is: “We want you to ‘place’ a story in xx publication that says xyz.” This is when we reiterate that PR is not advertising. With the latter, organizations can purchase an ad and dictate exactly what they want it to say. But with PR, or earned media, there’s limited control over the story, as it’s in the hands of the journalist writing it.

While JWC can help guide the story with background materials, data or industry information, strategic messaging, client media training and well-crafted speaking points, the final article will be determined by the journalist, who may include opposing viewpoints, feature competitors, etc.

The upside? Earned media is considered more credible than advertising, with a recent Nielson study on the role of content in the consumer decision-making process concluding that PR is almost 90 percent more effective than advertising. As the saying goes, with advertising, you tell people how great you are; with publicity, others sing your praises.

3) Not Everything is Newsworthy

While it’s our duty to secure positive coverage about our clients, it’s also our job to inform them when something isn’t newsworthy. Sure, we could send out a press release about a two for one sale on widgets, but doing so is ultimately a disservice to your organization and can damage our reputation and relationships in the process.

Journalists are stretched thin and many rely on PR professionals to provide content that is newsworthy – meaning it’s timely, significant, has local relevance, a human interest element, etc. So when they receive information that has no value to their audience, or is overly promotional, journalists will be less likely to open our next email or answer our call. It’s imperative that we balance your goals and the needs of our media contacts.

4) Let Us be Your Media Liaison

It’s not uncommon for an organization to hire a PR agency, then proceed with taking on duties that should be left to the PR professionals. As your agency, let us handle all media requests, so we can advise on how best to handle each scenario. We were hired for our expertise; your organization will reap the greatest benefits by taking advantage of that knowledge.

5) PR Can Take Time – But It’s Worth It

Finally, understand that PR can take some time. It’s a cumulative marketing strategy that builds on itself, and can depend on multiple factors – including journalists’ timelines, trends, breaking news, etc. But while PR can require some patience, the value it provides to your organization through third-party endorsements is immeasurable and an invaluable component to your overall marketing strategy.